The need for speed – Safe return to sport

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

Abraham Lincoln


Light at the end of the tunnel

So we have some news at last…

Almost 100 days since a ball was last kicked in anger on pitches across the country, we now have a roadmap on planned return to GAA action.

And so it begins, …that competitive edge within us ensures that every player, coach and manager has now turned their thoughts to the first game (currently pencilled in for 29th July weekend).

Endless weeks of isolated training, zoom sessions, makeshift garage gyms (some very impressive setups were constructed I might add) with no end in sight have now given way to a clear starting point.

Collective training (with restrictions) can begin shortly. Players will arrive back, keen to impress, but with varying degrees of training under their belt during lockdown. No doubt the intensity levels will increase once the collective  work begins and so the question is: are you ready for that increased intensity?


Injury risk

As we have already seen in the Bundesliga, the return to play has resulted in a huge spike in injuries, almost two thirds of these being muscular. With games coming thick and fast, it’s imperative that club players are prepared as best they can be for this increased load.

Hopefully most club players will have had access to some form of structured S&C/running work during lockdown. But with no end goal in sight much of this running work may have been steady state running in the form of 5k/10k runs. Great work for building a solid base, but compared to the demands of training/games this alone won’t be enough.

It’s vital that players use this next few weeks to integrate some key ‘match specific’ components into their training:

-High speed
-Change of direction (COD)
-Decision making


High speed

Exposure to high speed is vital over this next few weeks to prepare the body for increased intensity. This doesn’t mean go out and start sprinting straight away, but rather change your running work from steady state (5ks) to more interval type running work. Gradually introducing higher speeds into our training is hugely important in injury prevention. There are many examples of this but we are trying to make our body more accustomed to stop/start work, or intense bursts of effort with recovery. Over time the speed output can increase so you are working harder, perhaps with more recovery.


Change of direction

As Gaelic football is essentially an evasion game, integrating drills that involve agility and change of direction are hugely important in injury prevention, particularly around the hips and pelvic regions. The ability to declerate and change direction efficiently is arguably the most important factor preventing injury. This can again involve short busts of effort, with adequate recovery time, much like you may get in an actual match situation.


Decision making

Decision making is another vital part of game situations and again, during lockdown this may have been area that club players just couldn’t get access to. Adding in drills that make us react or make decisions, especially with the ball, will really maximise our ability to carry out these tasks under pressure when training and games resume.


With only a few weeks to go until collective work begins, we should use our time wisely to help prepare ourselves for what is coming down the tracks. Use whatever space/training aids you may have access to to target these key areas, sharpen your axe, and get ready for throw in!


For more information on injury prevention and return to sport safely, get in contact:

FB Tyrone Physio Clinic